After an appaling start, the sailing season is taking a turn for the better


I can’t remember a worse start to the sailing season. A knee operation early in the year meant we were still ashore during the fine April weather, since when it has been wind and rain all the way. The final straw semed to come at the end of July. The boat on which I was crewing had to withdraw in mid-Channel from the Yachting Monthly Biscay Triangle leg to La Coruna due to crew sickness and a forecast of endless strong south westerlies and heavy rain.

But then just 10 days later I had enjoyed two of the finest sailing expeditions I can remember for a long time. And as I look out of my office window the sun glitters off a brilliant blue Tamar and the boats on the moorings are fretting in an idyllic northerly Force 4.

The two outings restored my faith in why we had moved down here to Cornwall in the first place and why we set outselves up with two boats: a performance catamaran for fast coastal passagemaking and a traditional dayboat to explore the miles of sheltered waters of the Rivers Tamar, Tavy, Lynher and Plyn that make up the Tamar estuary.

The first trip was a gentle potter up river. At first the banks are open with cattle in the fields. Then they close in and are densely wooded. We passed quaint Halton Quay and historic Cotehele House before pausing for a pie and a pint in the old port of Calstock (the picture shows the approaches). In the afternoon we carried on up past the mining museum at Morwellham Quay and finally turned round just short of the head of navigation at Gunnislake and drifted with the tide back to Cargreen.

Then, a week later, also in bright sunshine and perfect winds we had a high speed beat along the coast to Fowey touching 10 knots at times and averaging just under 8. We had a peaceful evening rafted up with fellow club members before returning in lighter winds but warm sunchine, picking up our mooring in time to scrub the decks just before the rain came to rinse them off.